On Friday, Taylor Swift surprise-dropped her eighth studio album, folklore, which sent fans into a delighted frenzy.
Since the 16 new songs were released at midnight, Swifties have been parsing lyrics for romantic subtext, stoking the flames of those old Karlie Kloss rumors, and wondering if Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds’ third child is named Betty.
folklore leaves much to digest, unpack, and savor, but I, for one, can’t fully focus on doing that, because I can’t stop thinking about a single lyric on Track 6, “mirrorball,” that’s straight out of a Dashboard Confessional song.
Anyone who knows me knows I’ve been a hardcore, unwavering Dashboard fan since the early 2000s. This explains why I received the following text from my friend and fellow good music lover, Caitlin Healey, on Friday afternoon. Healy explained that when listening to “mirrorball” she couldn’t help but think of a lyric from Dashboard’s 2006 song, “Stolen.” And as someone whose eighth grade MySpace song was “Stolen,” I feel Caitlin came to the right place for this discussion.
For those who need a refresher, in “mirrorball,” Swift sings, “You’ll find me on my tallest tiptoes / Spinning in my highest heels, love / Shining just for you.” And in “Stolen,” Dashboard’s Chris Carrabba famously sings, “I watch you spin around in your highest heels.”
I was born to do many things in this life, and you’d better believe that opening my laptop on a Saturday to do a deep dive on Taylor Swift and Dashboard Confessional is one of them. So let us embark on this rewarding journey together.
When I first listened to folklore on Friday morning before work I was absolutely enchanted. The return to Swift’s “All Too Well”-esque sound mesmerized me, and when I got to “mirrorball” I instantly knew it would be a favorite.
The intro reminded me a bit of an Alvvays song, and when I heard the little “highest heels” alliteration another sense of familiarity washed over me. As Caitlin’s text pointed out, that familiarity was from “Stolen,” and after doing some digging I am now 99.99999999 percent confident that the “mirrorball” lyric was inspired by Dashboard Confessional.
Taylor’s relationship to Dashboard Confessional
For those who don’t know, Swift is a huge Dashboard Confessional fan and is genuine pals with Chris Carrabba. She even booked the Dashboard singer to give a surprise performance at her childhood best friend Abigail’s 25th birthday party back in 2015, where the three were seen singing along with Paramore’s Hayley Williams (!) to “Hands Down.”
In 2015, before Swift wiped her social accounts clean, she also tweeted about “SCREAMING” Dashboard lyrics in a van. And around that time, Vulture created a “Taylor Swift or Dashboard Confessional Lyric?” quiz. (Sadly, the post is full of dead links.)
In 2018, Swift got even more vocal about her love for the band when speaking with Billboard about her favorite Dashboard song.
“‘Hands Down’ is a time capsule of teenage romance. Every detail in the song is a brushstroke of that visceral drama, that anticipation, and the anxious trepidation all leading up to a climactic moment of victorious bravery that pays off better than you dreamt it would,” Swift said. “Chris Carrabba whispers, then croons, then screams this story of ‘doing nothing at all.’ The result, in my opinion, is perfection.”
It’s worth noting that the “Stolen” music video, which stars Olivia Wilde and tells the story of a romance through the years, has EXTREME Taylor energy. So I have no doubt that although she publicly pledges allegiance to “Hands Down,” “Stolen” is up there on her list of favorite Dashboard songs.
Swift has shown a strong love for Carrabba in recent years, but according to Rolling Stone‘s Jonathan Bernstein, she’s been vibing to Dashboard Confessional songs since she was a teen.
On Dashboard’s end, Carrabba is just as big a fan of Taylor as she is of him. Over the years Dashboard has tweeted several times about Swift and her music. And in 2013, Carrabba celebrated Swift’s birthday by recording a cover of her song “Mean” with his folk rock band, Twin Forks.
In recent years, Carrabba has spoken about Swift to press, and told Vulture how they met during a 2018 interview.
“I met her online. She was posting something about singing ‘Hands Down’ at the top of her lungs so I DM’d her and that began a friendship. We started going to each other’s shows. I think by then she’d already told people that I was an influence for her,” he said.
Carrabba went on to say that he doesn’t like when people “pick on” Swift, and he called her a “good” and “brave” person who makes “fucking great” music.
The “mirrorball” lyric verdict
All right! Now that we’ve established beyond a shadow of a doubt that Taylor Swift listens to and loves Dashboard Confessional, and Dashboard’s Chris Carrabba listens to and loves Swift, it’s time to examine that “mirrorball” lyric.
“Stolen”: “I watch you spin around in your highest heels”
“mirrorball”: “Spinning in my highest heels”
The verdict: After reviewing all evidence that proves Taylor is a Dashboard stan, I can only conclude that this folklore lyric was directly inspired by “Stolen.” Whether Swift intentionally meant to honor the band’s lyric, or her love of Carrabba’s dreamy words subconsciously found its way into her track, the similarities are just too striking to pass off as coincidence.
“Taylor Swift’s folklore is a masterpiece. That kind of profound impact is what I need right now…and I’m not alone.”
A lyric about heels? Sure. A lyric about spinning in heels? You can still get away with it. A lyric about spinning in high heels? OK! But a lyric about SPINNING in your HIGHEST HEELS? That’s some Dashboard right there.
And for anyone wondering, Carrabba has heard folklore, and he adores the album. “Taylor Swift’s folklore is a masterpiece,” Carrabba said in a statement provided to Mashable. “folklore is a musical and lyrical pulling away of the curtain revealing the singers full and exposed heart and in doing so, somehow, revealing my own heart to myself. That kind of profound impact is what I need right now…and I’m not alone.”
Carrabba is right. As far as Taylor’s albums go, folklore is definitely a contender for “best one of the best ones.” And fans also picked up on some Dashboard vibes when listening.
“And you know damn well, I would ruin myself for you a million little times” is some 2001-2005 Dashboard Confessional shit & unless you were a teen during that time, you will not understand the gravity of how good those lyrics actually are @jackantonoff @taylorswift13 #Folklore
— Alex Mendoza (@MissMendozaaa) July 24, 2020
A future Taylor / Dashboard collaborating
At this point in time, my hopes for a potential Taylor Swift and Dashboard Confessional collab are so high that even the sheer thought might kill me. But honestly? It could happen.
In that Feb. 2018 interview with Vulture, Carrabba acknowledged that he can hear a little Dashboard in Taylor’s work, which he’s proud of. He also revealed that he’s thought about entering the studio with her.
“We talked about it… I think in time it may come to pass, or it won’t. It doesn’t really matter if we actually write together or not but I think we would write something good and special together,” Carrabba said. “But there’s no burning rush for me to do that. If that kind of thing happens, it will just happen.”
In case those comments weren’t hopeful enough, in March 2018, Carrabba talked about a potential collab again with the New York Post.
“When she calls me up and says I think we should write a song together,” he said he’s ready. “If we were talking now and she called me and said that, I’d hang up on you with no apology,” Carrabba continued.
Now that I’ve gotten this theory off of my chest I can resume calmly listening to folklore and Dashboard albums on a loop. But if collab day ever comes, just know that somewhere out there I’ll be fully losing my shit.
UPDATE: July 25, 2020, 12:24 p.m. EDT Updated with comment from Chris Carrabba.